Once upon a time, it was enough to have an e-mail address. Then, you needed a social media handle. Now that most of us have gone multi-platform, our profiles are silently screaming to be noticed amidst all of the other thought leaders, artists, influencers, and career professionals out there. Creating a bio for billions to see can seem overwhelming, but a well-crafted, strong bio can tell an amazing story for everyone who reads it.
Thankfully, there are many more ways to embolden and bedazzle your personal bio now than even a few years ago, when most of us were reduced to little more than a name and title on a business card. Today, your bio is seen as a reflection of not only your professional status, but of your personality, your taste, your credibility and your goals. In many ways, your bio is the story of your personal brand.
Even if you may not believe that others will notice it, be assured that they will. Here’s why having a good bio is critical in today’s business environment.
A good bio establishes your credibility and further certifies your expertise
You may be an artist or professional who is not yet a household name, but you’ve attracted fans and are on your way to a five-figure fan base — maybe even that coveted, blue “verified” checkmark. But being well-known is one thing; being considered as a thought leader in your niche is another thing entirely.
Crafting a succinct, well-written, and relevant bio for your website and social media accounts will do more to establish both your credibility and expertise than almost any other action you could take. When you byline a guest piece, for example, many readers will skip to the bio before committing to read what you have to say. If what they read is vague, poorly written, or overly effusive, an opportunity to build brand equity has been lost.
To make a good impression, brevity is essential. Not only is it the soul of wit, per William Shakespeare himself, but being succinct signals that you’re not going to waste anyone’s time. Bios should be short and sweet, contain the information necessary for your intended audience, give readers a hint of your personality, and then get straight to the point. A good standard to follow is 150 words or less. Anything more, and you’re drifting into “long-winded” territory, where you risk losing your audience’s attention — which, if readers are using social media to read your bio, is only about two seconds long.
Ideally, a brief bio should follow your photo and email signature, separated by a line. Keep in mind that a lot of people will use your bio multiple times as a reference point. There is even research suggesting that including “link in bio” on your social media posts will result in greater overall engagement. Keep it updated.
I link, therefore I am
One of the most frustrating things to read is a “dead end” bio that goes nowhere, though one way to prevent this is by making sure to set up links to previous coverage that you’ve received. People typically visit your bio because they read something about you or by you. Perhaps they watched a video, or heard a podcast featuring you, and now want to know more. The easiest way to indulge them is setting up a hub of links that include everything you’ve got out there.
You’ll get the best results by starting with your contributions to well-known national outlets, up-and-coming podcasts with high download rates, or collaborations with well-known influencers. If you don’t have much to showcase, consider serving on a board or taking an advisory position with an organization that you can collaborate with and link to later. Don’t be shy; very few people in this world need no introduction, and everyone starts somewhere, even thought leaders.
Don’t forget to constantly refresh
Consider your bio, as it currently stands, a starting point to expand upon. You should create different bios for different platforms — at minimum, one long version and a short one — but be sure to stay on message. Use your intuition and common sense to read the virtual room. What someone on LinkedIn is happy to read, for example, will be a lot different than what a new visitor to your TikTok profile may want or need to know about you. Learn how to use the platforms’ dashboards and metrics to keep on top of what’s working and what isn’t.
Finally, always write in the third person. Using “I” and “me” can give some readers a poor first impression. You want those who read your bio to want to learn more about you, not roll their eyes. Be sure to get a second or third set of eyes on your bio to see how it reads to others who aren’t already familiar with your background or unique talents. The last thing you want in your bio is for the most interesting thing about you to be something that others take for granted.
Melanie Parncutt is a publicist at Otter PR in St. Petersburg, Florida. She is a media relations expert and utilizes passionate storytelling, strategic messaging, trend jacking, and high-speed communication to elevate the thought leaders of tomorrow.